From all that I had heard, The Last Wish by Andrjez Sapowski was a robust, diamond in the rough kind of read. That prompted me to pair the book with the robust flavored Crown Royal Black and the Diamond Crown Black Diamond Emerald.
The Last Wish is a prequel to the first book in a series for The Witcher; it’s a collection of short stories to introduce Geralt of Rivia to those who, for the most part, already love him from the video games or the new Netflix series. These people are working backwards as the stories came long before either were created.
The Last Wish is an English translation from Polish. The translation is full of relaxed, descriptive prose using straight forward verbiage. The Crown Royal Black does the same, with a laid back taste full of direct flavors of vanilla and oak. The Diamond Crown Black Diamond Emerald is a little more complex in its composition but is still a simple enough set of flavors to be appreciated by the novice smoker. So for the pairing is in lock step.
The world of the Witcher is full of monsters, magic, and moral grey. Likewise, the Crown Royal Black is a very dark amber bordering on nut-brown and demands more of the drinker than a lighter whiskey would. Keeping pace, the Black Diamond maduro wrapper is a rich chocolate color with visible veins and a silky touch. We’ve definitely set the stage for a lush and dark setting found in The Last Wish.
The stories show a man at the height of his power and does not provide a usual story arc of coming of age, a hero’s journey, or any such thing. Instead, it shows a man constantly forced to re-evaluate how he views and interacts with the world as he is faced with continuously making choices between two evils and unable to determine which is the lesser. The Black Diamond mirrored this for me, forcing me to reevaluate my normal palate of spices and cream for something more earthy and sweet. Instead of being challenged to choose between two evils, I find myself challenged now to choose between two delightful flavor profiles.
The characters themselves are all bold and continue to challenge what it means to be not just a human, but a good person. The flaws abound but the book never vilifies any of them, allowing their actions to be interpreted by the reader. I appreciate this the same way I appreciate how the Crown Royal Black was more in my face with its stronger flavors and short, spice-laced finish.
The short stories well introduced Geralt of Rivia as a mercenary who kills monsters for money and would otherwise leave most matters alone, despite whatever the moral compass of the world would say about it. It built a heavily eastern European influenced world of magic and monsters. It makes many promises about what will come next if prompted to read the actual first book in the series, The Blood of Elves. The Crown Royal Black likewise delivered on being a more robust Crown Royal, with a full body and strong flavors presented in a straightforward manner. The Diamond Crown Black Diamond Emerald also did its job, presenting a blend of delicious tastes that were balanced throughout the smoke.
I have to admit, this pairing was particularly well matched. A true success and one I highly recommend, as the tone of each was complimentary to the other, often enhancing the strengths of each. Plus, everything is presented in an easily consumable way for the novice reader/smoker/sipper and at the same time nuanced enough to maintain the enjoyment of an intermediate, if not necessarily complex, palate. I encourage you to go try The Last Wish with both the Crown Royal Black and the Diamond Crown Black Diamond as soon as possible.